Friday, May 24, 2013

Reports Don't Produce Opportunities

How does 'data-driven' actually work?

In a post on All Things Digital, Ben Elowitz of Wetpaint makes the case that it is the phobia of being shown up by the data that contributes to the slow adoption of data-driven {marketing.}   In fact, he quoted a friend's dirty little secret. 
"Nobody wants to use the data."   He goes on to argue that collecting data is the safe AND easy part.
Re-imagining the world is the prescription for the problem, not justifying a set of HiPPO decisions.   To that end Ben offers five great questions to consider:
  1. What does my audience love?
  2. How do they want it?
  3. How can I best relate to them?
  4. What secret signals is my audience sending?
  5. Where is my sweet spot? 

So, how does a marketing organization get to this point?  Tools and humans - split 10% and 90%.  Too often we hear of technology as the saving grace to the problem; it isn''t.  Creating new solutions that satisfy consumer needs is a high-risk business (just look at the failure rate of new products).  Data and technology are enablers that allow exploration to happen.  In both the NetFlix and Target examples, there was a general direction stated by business executives:  "Should we buy the rights to the British series House of Cards?" and "can we identify pregnant women?"  These questions provided the compass by which people found the answers - 'yes' in both cases.

Note that none of these questions have to do with metrics, conversions or optimization; nor are they the kind that can be programmed into a report or dashboard.  They are the best kind of question:  ambiguous and in need of human thought.    This is where opportunities are found.

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